Administrators begin planning for spring operation scenarios

Media Credit: File Photo by Gabrielle Rhoads | Staff Photographer

Provost Brian Blake said as it stands now, "it doesn't feel like" the University will resume normal operations come spring.

Officials have begun meeting about GW’s operations for the spring semester.

Provost Brian Blake said at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday that about five administrators met earlier this month for one hour to begin conversations about how classes will be delivered in the spring. He said officials discussed options to gradually phase an in-person reopening, alternate when students attend in-person instruction or continue delivering classes solely online.

“As you look into how we are right now, it doesn’t feel like we will be 100 percent back in the spring,” Blake said. “It could change, but if you took the temperature of today, even if we come back to campus, it is likely to be limited.”

Blake said if administrators decide to limit the number of students returning to campus in the spring, freshmen and seniors may be prioritized.

“I do feel for the first-year students and for their need to have a touch with the campus, and I also feel for the seniors because I think about their transition during graduation,” he said. “I’m not going to say that’s what we would do, but I think those two populations just in my gut would have some priority.”

He added that administrators will begin making decisions about the spring semester in roughly mid-October, including restrictions on study abroad programs.

“If we can go back fully in person, that would be my priority, but we’ll have to look and see what the state of the nation and the District is,” Blake said.

Officials are projecting a $180 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, which assumes most students will not return to campus for the entire academic year.

University President Thomas LeBlanc said officials are examining three housing scenarios for the spring: permitting roughly 500 students with extenuating circumstances to live on campus, housing about 2,500 students in nearly all single rooms or fill residence halls to normal capacity with about 6,500 students.

“We would only do that if both the national and local pandemic circumstances allow us to do it,” LeBlanc said of the latter option. “We’ll be looking at those options as we work our way through the fall. We’ll be in conversation with the District. As you know, I think many of us thought we would be in Phase Three by now – we’re not, we’re in Phase Two.”

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